Outliving His Obituary Writer

james van allen

James Van Allen

Not many people can say that they outlived their obituary writer. However, in the case of physicist James Van Allen (1914-2006), he outlived his obituary writer by ten years.

In 1996, science reporter Walter Sullivan (1918-1996) was tasked by the Associated Press to write an obituary of Van Allen to be published once he passed away. At the time, Van Allen was already rather old so somebody in the Associated Press may have thought that his death was near.

The prewritten obituary was proven to be unnecessary since Van Allen lived for ten more years. He died on August 9, 2006, at 91.

In an ironic twist of fate, Sullivan died in the same year when he wrote Van Allen’s obituary.

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

10 thoughts on “Outliving His Obituary Writer

  1. Shades of Mark Twain, who wrote in 1897 that “The report of my death is an exaggeration” (often misquoted as “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated”). Twain didn’t die until 1910.

    Liked by 3 people

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